Four passengers detained for threatening to hijack plane

Four passengers who were to board a flight operated by local airline operator Flyme have been detained by the Aviation Security Command (AVC) for allegedly threatening to hijack the plane.

According to local media reports, the incident occurred last Saturday evening around 7:00pm at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) while passengers were boarding Flyme’s scheduled flight from INIA to Laamu Atoll Kadhdhoo domestic airport.

A police media official confirmed to Minivan News that such a case was investigated but said that the police had not made any arrests regarding the matter.

“The Aviation Security Command did not mention the issue was of serious concern. There is no reason to detain them and investigate. So we did not arrest them,” the official told Minivan News.

Flyme is an airline operated under resort tycoon-turned-politician Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group which  began its operations on October 1, 2011, with the opening of Gasim’s and the Maldives’ first private airport in Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili Island.

The Head of Aviation Security Command Colonel Mohamed Ziyad told local newspaper Haveeru that the four passengers had given out a false threat in a bid to express their frustration over the delay in boarding the passengers to the flight.

“[Regardless of accuracy of such threats] we are obliged to take action. That is because, as per aviation regulations no passenger or any one for that matter, can make such threatening remarks. If anyone gives such an alarm, we have to take action. That person would not be allowed to board the flight and will be handed over to police,” Colonel Ziyad was quoted on Haveeru.

“We are at the moment trying to compile their statements. After that we will hand them over to police.”

However, an official from Flyme told local media outlet Sun Online that the four passengers had threatened to hijack the flight.

“While the passengers were boarding the flight, some individuals threatened the officials about hijacking the plane. So due to those threats we had to hand them over to the police,” the official told Sun Online.

He added that the incident had now been resolved although the flight had been delayed for about 45 minutes due to the incident.

Minivan News tried contacting Flyme’s media official Ahmed Shareef and Head of Aviation Security Command Colonel Mohamed Ziyad, but were not responding to calls at time of press.


Gasim will “not surrender to pressure” as government closes Villa spas

Opposition MP and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim has warned the government that he would not “surrender to the pressures” of authorities after they halted operations of his airline, Flyme, and ordered the closure of spas in five resorts in his Villa chain in the past 48 hours.

In a statement released on Monday, Transport Ministry said that Flyme airline, which began operating on October 2, was asked to halt operations while the ministry carried out an audit. The audit is addressed on an incident with the aircraft which took place on December 24.

The audit would be carried out within three months to determine whether the Flyme operations are administered according to the Civil Aviation regulations, the statement read.

However, on Tuesday morning Gasim’s lawyers successfully sought a civil court order to resume Flyme operations.

Meanwhile, on Sunday the Tourism Ministry sent a notice to Gasim’s Villa resorts ordering management to shut down resort spas until further notice, claiming the ministry had received reports of prostitution in those departments.

On Monday, a police team accompanied Tourism Ministry officials to Gasim’s Paradise Island resort to investigate the reports.

However, the resort’s manager Gaisar Naseem rejected the ministry’s order, claiming that  no illegal activity is occurring in the spas, and refused to close down the spas without a court order, local media reported.

Naseem was summoned to appear at Police headquarters for further questioning at 2:00 pm on Tuesday.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that police are cooperating with the Tourism Ministry to investigate the allegations against the resorts.

Gasim, Leader of Jumhoory party, has said the government’s recent decisions are targeted to “silence” him because of his work in the parliament and on a political platform.

In a press statement released on Monday night, Gasim assured that his businesses are of high standing and will bring only a good name to the country.

However, he warned that the government’s allegations that he is running “brothels in the resorts” will harm the tourism sector.

Gasim also warned the government that he will “not surrender to the pressures”, and that the government is “foolish” to think otherwise.

During the December 23 protest to “defend Islam”, Gasim criticized the government’s religious credentials.

“We don’t know there is a moderate, higher or lower Islam. We only know Islam, which is above all the religion. The only road we must follow is based on Allah’s callings,” said Gasim, slamming the government’s calls for “moderate Islam”.

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have also recently accused Gasim of proposing amendments to “destroy” the government’s budget for 2012.